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As part of a UNC NeuroSpark event, four research teams at the UNC School of Medicine won $25,000 pilot grants with the goal of increasing collaborations throughout the neurosciences.

As part of the Forward Together Strategic Plan, the UNC School of Medicine committed $100,000 in 2023 to fund pilot neuroscience research projects. The funding will increase collaborations in the neurosciences and incentivize faculty to generate pilot data for use in grants to the NIH and other external agencies. This is the fourth year of a five-year commitment for NeuroSpark from the School of Medicine.

Seven neuroscience research teams at the School of Medicine competed for four $25,000 pilot grants. Each team gave a 12-minute pitch. Following the presentations, attendees voted for the top four projects. The four teams that received the most votes were selected as winners.

The event was attended by graduate students, postdocs, lab members and faculty.

The winning teams are:

A pilot VR study for intro-operative neurologic monitoring in awake craniotomies

Dominique Higgins, MD, PhD (Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery)

Yueh Lee, MD, PhD (Vice Chair of Translational Research, Professor of Radiology, Neuroradiology Section Adjunct, Physics and Astronomy & Biomedical Engineering)

Andrew Abumoussa, MD, MSc (PGY6 – UNC Department of Neurosurgery)

A void in the noid: vascularizing patient-derived organoids

Jason Stein, PhD (Associate professor, Department of Genetics, UNC Neuroscience Center)

William Polacheck, PhD (Assistant professor, Biomedical Engineering, other affiliations are Cell Biology and Physiology + McAllister Heart Institute)

Illuminating the endolysosomal system in schizophrenia

Sarah Cohen, PhD (Assistant Professor, Cell Biology and Physiology)

Stephanie Gupton, PhD (Professor, Cell Biology and Physiology)

Digital automation of synergistic, long-term drug delivery for treating Alzheimer’s disease

Juan Song, PhD (Professor, Jeffrey Houpt Distinguished Investigator, Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience Center)

Wubin Bai (Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Physical Sciences)

Original Press Release